(Away from) Home for the Holidays

2016 will be the first time I’m away from the U.S. for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.

Many years ago I spent both Canadian Thanksgiving and U.S. Thanksgiving around Toronto. Another year I think I was in Austria and Germany at the end of November.

Regular readers and PVC Security podcast listeners know I moved to Tokyo this month.

I don’t particularly care I’ll miss Christmas and New Year’s. I could do without both. Christmas to me means traffic jams and hypo-consumerism. New Year’s is mostly an opportunity to screw up one’s sleep schedule. Unless the calendar is forgiving, all too soon one returns to work.

I used to volunteer to work those holidays, I liked them so little. I won’t miss them here.

Thanksgiving? Well, that’s another thing entirely.

I love the weather in New England and Michigan this time of year. I love well cooked turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, rolls, green beans, etc. I love pumpkin beer (though it’s creep earlier and earlier reduces the draw for me). I love watching football.

Most of all, I love spending it with my family. It can be just me and the kids. It can be the whole clan or something inbetween.

I wonder how I’ll do that day here. Some of my colleagues and friends here have already volunteered to take my mind off of it.

Stay tuned!

And so it begins … in Tokyo

How to follow me on my adventures in Tokyo.

I’m finally here.

The partner leading my consulting practice asked me about moving to Tokyo in December of ’15. I remember I was in my Brussels hotel room just before Christmas when he floated the notion. By February it was more than a mere notion. By April I would be starting “Any Day Now”.

It’s November, week 45 of 2016, and I’m at long last on the ground with all (most all) of my things.

I’m documenting my Tokyo experience, at least the personal side of things, in a few new places.

On Instagram I’m TokyoGringo.

On Twitter, I’m also @TokyoGringo.

On YouTube, I’m not TokyoGringo. I’m just plain old me: pjorgensen.

Follow and comment if you’re so inclined.

Kit & Caboodle: The Series & The List

Want to know what I’m carrying in my consulting bag?

Continue reading “Kit & Caboodle: The Series & The List”

Weekly Review: week ending 04 June

Here’s me returning to the weekly review habit.

I had a busy week, my second in a two-week business Tokyo trip. I found, and my colleagues helped me find, plenty of time for personal fun time.

The first bit of fun I found on Sunday. I wandered through various Tokyo districts recommended to me:

  • Yushima & Nezu, both near to Ueno
  • Ochanomizu & Bunkyo, both near Akihabara
  • Kagurazaka, near central Tokyo

A list rundown isn’t necessary as all five neighborhoods were quaint, quiet, and places I can see myself living. Next trip I’ll check out other options.

The biggest news has to be the trackball I found. It’s made by Elecom, a company lacking a great reputation. Yet they offer what’s essentially a wireless Microsoft Trackball Explorer with extra buttons!

Fixing my return flights is best described as nightmarish. Delta and SkyTeam better integrate their systems than American and the oneworld partners. Topping it off, when I stopped in at the Admirals Club at NRT they wouldn’t take my Alaska Airlines Boardroom membership for lounge access. I purchased my ticket on American. I had a connecting American flight. However, according to their rules I should only gain access if I’m flying on AA metal. The lounge staff was fantastic and granted me access anyway PLUS addressed my seat assignment issue.

I cleared out my expense backlog, long overdue.

I presented my IBM Watson Summit Japan talk about hybrid SOC & cloud technology for about 60 colleagues. I presented a proposal pitch to a customer. Both proved successful and interesting (for me, anyway).

Colleagues pulled me into new customer opportunities. My “dance card” is full. That is a good state of being for a consultant.

The Security Culture Conference in Oslo was the victim of this demand. I have to return to Tokyo the same week. Hard to be in two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all, let alone if they’re on opposite sides of the globe. I had a whole week of vacation around the event planned.

Seated next to me on the flight to ORD was a fun 4 year old girl who slept less than her mom did. She, the girl & not the mom, talked to the videos she watched and had trouble sitting still. The poor fellow in front of the girl received the abuse of pushing-feet-on-the-seat. I enjoyed the extra elbow room.

O’Hare is a miserable airport. It reminds me of a quote from “The Silence of the Lambs” movie I’ll paraphrase: “It’s like the elaboration of a bad joke”. It also reminds me of Zork: “You’re in a maze of twisty passages, all alike”. The Admirals Club lounge is old, crowded, and dirty. The staff is nice enough. The remodel cannot come quickly enough.

When I arrived in Detroit there were no Uber cars available. I took a taxi with a driver new to the city, a bad situation when dozing off constantly (me, not the driver).

Ending on a positive note, the weather is nice.

En Route to Tokyo Observations, Part II

More musings from my trip:

  • I lost a great post to WordPress web interface requiring a random re-authentication.  I need to reconfigure Emacs org-mode to get it working with the new VPS.
  • There’s a bug in Delta’s InFlight Entertainment (IFE) system I often trigger. I turn the display off during boarding since all it does is flash advertising. The IFE kicks in for the safety video, and then shuts off as it was before departure. Unfortunately, that means the IFE no longer works unless I can talk the cabin crew into a reboot, which I doubt I’d do. I miss the travel map & stats.
  • Speaking of the IFE safety video, Delta’s quality seems to drop with each iteration. This “best of, award show” version is not just bad but a clip show at that.
  • At least Richard Anderson STOPPED YELLING AT US IN HIS MONOTONE SOUTHERN ACCENT. Now a days, Mr. Anderson talks to us at a normal volume & even throws in some inflection. Nice!
  • On a big international flight light mine (MSP – NRT), don’t follow the first cattle call to the gate. Almost always they open up another lane on the other side of the desk. Get there.
  • I hate neck pillows. More specifically, I hate that people have those giant half fuzzy inner-tubes around their necks. Throw in a pair of over-the-ear headphones and eye shades also around the neck and you hit the trifecta!
  • I LOVE Internet over the ocean! Well done, GoGo!
  • There’s a woman sitting behind me who is loving the show she’s watching. I hear her laughing every 5 minutes or so.

Paul Feig on Suits – Confessions of a Suit, by Paul Feig

In the 12 years I’ve been doing it, outside of one incident in which a producer tried to convince me not to dress up because he said I was putting myself above the actors — seriously — I’ve been thanked by both cast members and crew people for showing them a little respect by dressing like a leader and like the adult I’d always wanted to be. And, selfishly, yes, I’ve also just really enjoyed wearing my suits — just like I did before I grew out of that Pierre Cardin three-piece.

Source: Paul Feig on Suits – Confessions of a Suit, by Paul Feig

By the way, there are practical uses to wearing a suit every day: you can use the bathroom in most all hotels (Mr. Feig spoke with Jesse Thorn & others on the topic), and if you’re on a plane it’s easier to make use of the business/first class facilities if you’re not in it, regardless of your row. As with all power, use it responsibly and only when alternatives are exhausted.

Also: Be nice; Be polite; Be friendly; Be fun; Don’t be a jerk.

En Route to Tokyo Observations, Part I

Random musings and reflections and notes from my current trip to Tokyo:

  • The Hilton Tokyo Shinjuku doesn’t answer their phone. I tried calling three times to inform them of my delayed arrival. I called the Hilton Diamond Help Desk and even they couldn’t confirm the information was understood once they managed to communicate with the hotel. Apparently this location has a reputation.
  • Delta still doesn’t know how to board planes. Our flight took 40% longer to board than it should have (by my estimation). Boarding was like elderly man’s urination stream, dribbles and drabs.
  • Airbus might want to have airlines mount signs at the entry informing passengers where the row numbers are.
  • I do love the overhead bins on the Airbus A320(OW), the “turn your bag on its side” kind.
  • It’s funny that the cabin crew had to explain how the “space ship” style overhead controls work, and funny how they did it.
  • The woman sitting next to me is 5’0″ or so, yet she has an iPhone 6s Plus. She uses it like a tablet and it works well for her. I’m oddly impressed.
  • The Hootoo travel router ROCKS.

Motorola Provides an Argument for Apple as a Corporate Mobile Standard

I’m unlikely to recommend Android devices until Google and the hardware providers get the upgrade situation under control. I might make an exception for the Nexus and Samsung devices, but as I write this I have no faith in the rest of the Android ecosystem.

As I often do, let me tell you a story to illustrate this opinion:

When I started with IBM I chose the Motorola Droid Maxx over other Android phones and Apple iPhones.

My choice wasn’t arbitrary. I did my research.

The decision of iOS versus Android wasn’t a fair fight. KitKat made it easier to be effective. Sharing data between apps was not just easier, it was POSSIBLE on Android. iOS could copy and paste, but not much else.

The Maxx offered excellent battery life (I easily get through a full day on a single charge), a decent screen, an adequate amount of storage, and a rugged build according to my research. Two other major reasons I went with it was that Motorola was a part of Google (at the time) and they listed it as on the upgrade path to Android Lollipop.

14 months later and the only thing still true is the battery life. The screen cracked easily and repeatedly with regular use, the 16GB storage barely keeps up with my minimal workload, and it quickly becomes sluggish unless I close apps and/or reboot.

As for the upgrade to Lollipop, Motorola changed tack yesterday:

We apologize that we will not be upgrading DROID Ultra/Mini/Maxx to Android Lollipop, as we had hoped. We know how important software upgrades are to our customers, and we’re very sorry that we are unable to provide the upgrade.

The Maxx is still on 4.4.2 while Marshmallow (version 6) is the release du jour on Nexus. Verizon released few updates (and they’re complicit in the upgrade mess) but not at the cadence required. I’m sure my Maxx is vulnerable to many issues long since fixed on other platforms. Corporate mandates and enforces robust mobile security, yet I only use my corporate issued phone for email, calendar, tasks, and internal instant messaging. I don’t trust the phone to do much more. I’ve removed almost all non-stock applications.

My personal phone, the older OnePlus One with the Cyanogen Android flavor at 5.1.1, sees vastly more attention than the Motorola. On the 1+1 I do my social media and podcasts and RSS feeds and whatnot, much of which is work related or adjacent.

The funny thing: I used to carry a second phone to protect me from my benevolent corporate overlords. Now my personal phone protects my clients.

iPhones receive regular updates – some better than others, but Apple updates viable phones for a long time (the iPhone 4S, anyone?). Apps have to keep up, for better or worse. Newer iOS versions addressed the data sharing issue, making Apple  devices more useful to me as productivity tools.

The moral of my story is that I’m going through the process to replace the Maxx with an iPhone, but it’s a bureaucratic mess that takes time. Now that Motorola came clean, the upgrade path theoretically eases.

What about you? What are your experiences in this space? Have you standardized on iOS or Android or Windows? Or do you struggle with the mercurial nature of the vendors and your users? What about when vendors pull the rug out from under you? Are you considering alternate platforms like Microsoft Windows Mobile and Ubuntu?

Full Disclosure: I work for IBM. IBM and Apple are partners (who would have thought that in the 80’s?). My opinions are mine alone.

Microsoft’s popular blogging tool Windows Live Writer is now open source | Microsoft content from SuperSite for Windows

It is a journey that has been in the works for more than two years and was spearheaded by an independent group of volunteers within Microsoft​ and a long list of external volunteers whom have forked our beloved Windows Live Writer to Open Live Writer (OLW).

Source: Microsoft’s popular blogging tool Windows Live Writer is now open source | Microsoft content from SuperSite for Windows

Outside of Emacs (and maybe VI) this was the best blogging tool. I’m happy it’s going OSS.

Optimism is the cornerstone of any good rationalization

I chatted with a friend and PVC Security Podcast fan over Twitter earlier today. We were discussing the security stance in Europe and any potential travel I might have there. I mentioned the unexpected windfall the media’s pictures of Brussels give me as several of my pre-lockdown photos were lost due to sun spots, electromagnetic interference, and gremlins. The photo loss was not, and I cannot stress this enough, not user error.

She expressed concern for my travel and I deflected with the above. Granted, the original wording wasn’t as good and a bit misogynistic. By the way, “good rationalization” means effective and not any kind of moralistic judgement.

This modified version is a truer sentiment, and I like it. The most cursory DuckDuckGo doesn’t find an exact match, so I’ll coin it.


Creative Commons License
Optimism is the cornerstone of any good rationalization by Paul R. Jorgensen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.prjorgensen.com/?p=495.